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Asia Fantasia! Part 1 – Kuala Lumpur and beyond.

Glug, Glug, Glug.

Dan (my son) and I had enjoyed a really amazing trip to South East Asia at the beginning of the year taking in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia over a six week period. We experienced some amazing stuff (and not just culturally I can assure you! The partying was pretty outstanding, very much helped by some of the great friends we made along the way) including Halong Bay, The Cu Chi Tunnels, The Golden Standing Buddha, Toul Sleng Museum and The Killing Fields, The Temples of Angkor Wat; the list goes on and on really. Not to mention the Khao San Road (backpacker hub of the universe); The Songkran festival (and the partying that goes with it) in Sihanoukville, Cambodia and Koh Chang, Thailand, oh and the Scuba Diving too; along with attending the traditional Thai wedding of my dear friends Stumpy & Kitty which was truly a beautiful celebration and a memory I will cherish forever. I doubt I will ever top that trip; as much for what we experienced, but also the fact that I got to do it with Dan; that was very special for me. After getting home it took us both a while to get back to reality and we both moped around for a good few weeks until we gradually resumed normality.
I still had some annual holiday outstanding that would allow me to take another trip for twenty days and I decided to book a flight to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur (KL) and take it from there. As it turned out the best flights where to and from KL so I booked myself a seat with Emirates for the 27th of September flying out of Birmingham and returning on the 16th of October.

In the mean time I managed to pull in a short  three day trip to Tallinn, Estonia on my days off  courtesy of good old Ryanair, a very popular budget airline here in the UK. ( I work a continental shift pattern comprising 2 x 12 hour day shifts and 2 x 12 hour night shifts followed by four days off,and so on, which allows me to take these short European breaks from time to time.) The old town in Tallinn is really beautiful and well worth a few days if you ever get the chance to visit, plus the partying/backpacker scene is pretty cool too 🙂 Check out The Monks Bunk or Tallinn Backpackers for the best budget accommodation in the old town and the finest pub crawl; every night of the week! And George the alcohol-snorting Frenchman was particularly funny too! I can’t remember exactly what we drank (There’s a surprise!) or the order in which we did it but it involved setting fire to it, snorting some of it, and necking the rest. Heavy night man 😀

George the alcohol snorting Frenchman on the way to being very disorientated.

In the mean time, of course, I had been researching information for an Everest Base Camp trek for next year. That’s when the Yak Attack popped up on to my radar! Had I known what this was going to do to my life I might not have booked the second S-E-Asia trip 😀
A few weeks before my departure for KL I decided to book Dan a flight too, he was working on an ad-hoc basis and it wouldn’t really matter if he took three weeks off to come along.
And so it was that on the 27th September we bade our farewells to my Mum & Dad at Birmingham airport (thanks for the lift folks 🙂 ) and set off on another adventure.
Two seven hour flights and a transit stop in Dubai later and we touched down in Kuala Lumpur (+7 hours GMT), about as excited as it’s possible to be. Yippee.

We soon sussed out the quickest way in to the city and jumped on the KLIA Express high speed rail link into KL Sentral (RM35 – £7.00), despite the usual contradictory advice of the local taxi drivers! From there it was a simple hop onto another train to Panar Seni in the Chinatown district. I love the Chinatown districts all across Asia; they have a real flavour to them and a buzz which is hard to match. With a quick look at the map in Lonely Planet and a glance at the compass we soon found suitable accommodation, The Original Backpackers Travellers Hostel, and booked ourselves in for two nights before heading out to explore.
The sights, sounds and smells of Asia are amazing, in good and bad ways, and it felt good to be back. Dan and I giggled to each other a few times and enjoyed the whole crazy mix. We ate delicious Satay skewers at a roadside restaurant and then, later, retired to the hostel’s rooftop bar for a beer (beer = plural; meaning many bottles of beer!). We met a few people, as is always the case, and enjoyed the eclectic mix of company including a great lad from Germany called David, who was just beginning a years travel around Asia. We gave him a few tips and told him to get ready for the time of his life. Boy is he in for a few surprises!

Thursday 29th September

Jet-lag and beer had the best of us and we didn’t rise from our beds until 1.15pm, bugger!

We decide to head into the Golden Triangle District for the day… err… afternoon and do some sightseeing, but not before grabbing some splendid cakes for breakfast. Asia is surely the greatest continent on earth, where else can you have cake for breakfast and not feel guilty about it? 🙂

Dan waiting for the LRT at Panar Seni.

We jumped on the LRT (Light Railway) at Panar Seni and alighted shortly after at KLCC. We wandered out of the station and scratched our heads for a while “I wonder where the Petronas Towers are then?” I said to Dan, confused. According to the map they should have been right around where we where. We looked around and then looked up; we were stood right underneath them. One of the most iconic buildings on the planet and we couldn’t see it for looking!
What a structure though; when we tried to look right up to the top we went dizzy! I only tried it a couple of times. We giggled to each other for being so daft and then took a few photo’s and spent a few minutes taking it all in. Unfortunately for us the Skybridge was closed for refurbishment which meant we couldn’t go up and enjoy the view; we’ll just have to go back another time for that. Yay!

Dan at the Petronas Towers, so big that you can’t get them all into one photograph 😀

 We then set off towards Bukit Bintang  and the huge shopping malls but only got about half way before jumping on the MRT Monorail for the last bit. We went into the Berjaya Times Square Mall, 10 stories high, massive, not to mention the seven story high roller coaster in the kids play area! It took us ages just to scratch the surface and we got bored of the shops long before we had seen them all. Obviously whilst travelling in Asia it is obligatory to enjoy the cuisine so we munched down a lovely dinner in Nando’s… hmm… Peri-Peri. A lot cheaper than England too. More exploring of Chinatown followed on the way back along with a nosy through the Central Market.
We got back to the hostel about 7.30pm and chilled in the room for a while; I took advantage of the free WiFi and booked our flights with Air Asia for the following morning to Padang, Indonesia (£45 each, all-in).
With an early start required we decided that only a couple of beers would be sensible and for once, thankfully, we stuck to the plan and went to bed about 11.30pm.

Friday 30th September.

Neither of us slept much at all due the dreaded jet-lag and we got up bleary-eyed at 04.30am for the trip to the airport.
We flagged a taxi at the top of the street to KL Sentral and paid only RM10 (£2.00); mind you he took us to the Hilton Hotel first by mistake (I don’t know what they would have thought about two smelly backpackers?), luckily it was above the train station so he just drove us back down to it. We jumped straight onto a waiting bus for the LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) and arrived in a trifling 50 minutes, no problemo. Hungry hippo’s that we were we marched straight in to that bastion of international travel, McDonalds, and ordered a couple of Sausage and Egg McMuffins for breakfast before checking in. Good old McDonalds.
And good old Air Asia too, Indonesia here we come.

To be continued…

Unfortunately I can’t find some of our KL images including the one of that crazy roller coaster 🙁

Me below the mighty Petronas Towers.

A much better shot.

About The Author

Neil Cottam

Neil is the founder of Chase The Rainbow. He has spent a lifetime exploring the outdoors, from a childhood climbing trees and scrambling his bike around old pit heads to hiking in the Himalaya and backpacking around Europe and Asia.

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